Shoot for the moon
Winning the Mrs Africa, Mrs Africa Hemisphere and Mrs Transcontinental crowns has changed Lorna Greyling’s life irrevocably. For this 40-year-old bubbly beauty the titles have opened a world of possibilities to make a change in others’ lives and to realise she is so much more than she thought.
“What these titles and pageants really do, is to give you the self-confidence to do the things you never thought you could. This has meant so much to me and it has opened doors I never dreamt of,” says the vibrant mother of three daughters, writer, actress and philanthropist.
Since winning the titles, she has dedicated most of her time to uplift young girls in underprivileged communities, aiming to make them realise they can be so much more than they think.
Soon after her crowing, she used the pageants’ platforms to establish a charity project that supplies young girls who cannot afford it, with reusable sanitary towels, underwear and other personal items. Her organisation WomanMpower is a social economic development programme to educate, empower, uplift and inspire woman in order to give them hope and a future.
My motto is shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will end up amongst the stars.
“One day, after handing out the goodie bags at a very needy school, a girl came to me, put her arms around my and gave me a hug. .. and then she said: ‘Ma’am, you changed my life today’. I was speechless… and all I did was give her a sanitary towel. It has been wonderfully humbling to help these children and to try and change at least one thing for the better in their lives. Those faces and the tears when they open their gift bags…. The horrific circumstances of some of these poverty-stricken girls break my heart and I go home and just cry.”
Part and parcel of the project is also a feeding scheme and informal upliftment talks with the girls. “I try to motivate them to have confidence, to not believe that their circumstances mean that they cannot be more. My motto in life is to shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will end up amongst the stars. I want them to believe this too. Anything is possible.”
Lorna’s life is testimony to this. The Greylings went through a harrowing ordeal in 2010, when her husband, Nick was captured by a rebel group while on a work assignment in Nigeria. He was kept hostage and tortured for 10 days.
“I don’t know how I got through this. I received phone calls and I could hear my husband begging for his life before the call would be ended. It was psychological warfare,” she recalls. The kidnapping made national and international headlines and prayer chains around the world were started. With the help of the special forces and negotiators, Nick was eventually released and reunited with his family. Lorna wrote a book about the ordeal, Ontvoer.
“The experience brought us closer together as a family and made us realise what is really important.”
After this her beauty therapy business suffered and the family was at wits’ end. The Mrs Africa title came as a blessing, giving her a platform from which to do good things for those who so desperately need it, and the rest fell into place.
On a lighter note, Lorna sees herself as a beggar in high heels. “That is what I do, I beg for a higher cause. The goodie bags and food cost money and I have to somehow get it. But I love it. There is nothing that warms the heart like seeing the gratitude on a young face.”
Does she see herself as a beauty queen? “No, not a beauty queen, I see myself as someone who received the gift of self-confidence through a pageant,” she says.
“A lack of self-confidence is a dangerous place to be. I was there and the pageants pulled me out and showed me the possibilities of what I could be. It was a blessing. Look, a little vanity is necessary to believe in yourself and to think you are cute,” she laughs. “Everyone can be beautiful. False lashes and a good photographer work wonders. Outer beauty to me is not so important. I am actually a jeans and takkies kind of girl.”
Her husband and three daughters Miré (15), Tenieka (12) and Kiara (9) are the most important factors in her life. “And my biggest supporters… and critics,” she giggles. “They can be brutally honest. One told me the other day I had the biggest bum in the house!”
Lorna is handing over her crown as Mrs Transcontinental in a couple of months and that would be the end of pageants for her. “It has established my charities and that was enough. Now it is time to follow my other dreams that have become possibilities as a result of the titles – acting and making films!”
Lorna’s first movie, Blouwyn, will be on the big screen later this year and she is currently a presenter on the television series, Angel Armoury. “I have wanted to act and make movies since I was young. I am going to try and try until someone gives me a chance. I am shooting for the moon!”